DTN News: Pakistan TODAY December 4, 2009 ~ 14 Reported Dead In Pakistan Mosque Attack*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - December 4, 2009: Gunmen attacked a mosque during Friday prayers in a city near Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, with at least 14 people reported killed.Pakistan's army soldiers arrive at the site of a suicide bomb blast in Rawalpindi, in the outskirts of the capital Islamabad. A suspected Taliban suicide bomb killed at least 14 people in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi on Friday, officials said, as the government announced a reward for the capture, dead or alive, of the group's leader.
Police officials said gunmen stormed the mosque following an explosion at a checkpoint at an army installation near the military headquarters in Rawalpindi.Pakistan's Army troops take positions near the site of a suicide attack in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. At least two militants stormed a mosque close to Pakistan's army headquarters during Friday prayers, firing and throwing grenades before blowing themselves up in an attack that killed tens of people, officials said.
An army official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least 14 people had been killed in the attack.
Rawalpindi is a few kilometres from Islamabad. Pakistan's Army troops gather at the site of a suicide attack in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. At least two militants stormed a mosque close to Pakistan's army headquarters during Friday prayers, firing and throwing grenades before blowing themselves up in an attack that killed tens of people, officials said.
Violence in Pakistan has increased since the country launched an offensive in mid-October against Taliban militants in the restive area of South Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan.
DTN News: North Korea Military On Guard Against Unrest ~ Reports
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - December 4, 2009: North Korea's military was on guard as public anger grew over the communist country's shock currency revaluation, reports said Thursday. PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 02: North Korean soldiers walk to participate in the repatriation ceremony for a North Korean army sergeant at the Panmunjom on December 2, 2009 in South Korea. South Korean Navy vessels rescued a North Korean army sergeant from a small boat in the Korean west sea. The United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission and members of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission interviewed the soldier. During these interview the North Korean soldier answered questions about this rescue and subsequent care by United Nation Command, and he also expressed his desire to be repatriated to the North Korea.
The revaluation implemented Monday has sparked fury and frustration as some citizens saw much of their savings wiped out, according to reports and observers.
They said the North had tightened security against possible agitation, with a curfew reportedly imposed in a border region and shops closed across the country during the changeover period to a new currency, which ends Sunday.
Military authorities have strengthened vigilance and are monitoring people's movements to forestall unrest, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing North Korean merchants in China.
Media reports and embassies in Pyongyang said people had been given a week to exchange money at the rate of 100 old won for one new won -- but the total they can change is heavily restricted.
Reports said authorities initially limited the total sum that an individual can exchange for new currency to 100,000 won. The limit was later raised to 150,000 won in cash and 300,000 won in bank savings.
DailyNK, an online newspaper with informants in the North, said the rule has now been changed a second time.
It said the exchange rate is still 100:1 for the first 100,000 old won. But people can now change the rest of their money at a rate of 1,000:1.
The official exchange rate for the old currency was 135 to the dollar but the black market rate was between 2,000 and 3,000.
Analysts said the move, still not announced by official media, appears aimed at clamping down on burgeoning free markets in an attempt to reassert the regime's control.
"This move is part of Pyongyang's broader effort to curtail the rise of market activities and the development of pathways to wealth -- and potentially power -- beyond state control," Marcus Noland of the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote in the Asian Wall Street Journal.
South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said North Koreans are publicly voicing their anger despite the increased presence of security agents on the streets.
"There are accounts of people loudly cursing the government in the markets in major cities," it said.
Prices of goods have soared but it is still unclear whether authorities will cut prices to match the new currency, the daily said.
The regime has already taken steps to curb free street markets. These sprang up after the national food distribution system collapsed during famines in the 1990s, but are now seen as threatening the state's grip.
"Residents are lamenting bitterly that this was the disaster they were talking about when people mentioned that this is the year of disaster," Kim Keun-Soo, a fruit trader in the northern border city of Sinuiju, told Good Friends.
The Seoul welfare group has extensive contacts in the North.
"I would not complain about it if they provided food rations. Nothing can stop people after starving for three days. I get depressed when I think of the bleak future."
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - December 4, 2009: In an indictment handed down Nov. 20, the U.S. Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois accused 15 individuals of being involved in the trafficking of cocaine and other narcotics in the Chicago area. The 15 were arrested in a nationwide counter-narcotics operation led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) dubbed “Project Coronado,” which was aimed at dismantling the drug trafficking network of La Familia Michoacana (LFM), a mid-sized and relatively new drug cartel based in Michoacan state in southwestern Mexico.
The U.S. investigation of LFM has revealed many details about the operation of the group in the United States and answered some important questions about the nature of Mexican drug trafficking and distribution north of the border.
LFM stands out among the various drug cartels that operate throughout Mexico for several reasons. Unlike other drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) that have always been focused on drug trafficking, LFM first arose in Michoacan several years ago as a vigilante response to kidnappers and drug gangs. Before long, however, LFM members were themselves accused of conducting the very crimes they had opposed, including kidnapping for ransom, cocaine and marijuana trafficking and, eventually, methamphetamine production. The group is now the largest and most powerful criminal organization in Michoacan — a largely rural state located on Mexico’s southwestern Pacific coast — and maintains a significant presence in several surrounding states.
Beyond its vigilante origins, LFM has also set itself apart from other criminal groups in Mexico by its almost cult-like ideology. LFM leaders are known to distribute documents to the group’s members that include codes of conduct and pseudo-religious quotations from Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, also known as “El Mas Loco” (“the craziest one”), who appears to serve as a sort of inspirational leader of the group.
In April 2009, STRATFOR published a report on the dynamics of narcotics distribution in the United States. It laid out the differences between trafficking (transporting large quantities of drugs from the suppliers to the buyers over the most efficient routes possible) and distribution (the smaller scale, retail sale of small quantities of drugs over a broader geographic area) as well as the various gangs on the U.S. side that are involved in drug trafficking. The report outlined the differences in the resources and skills required to transport tons of narcotics hundreds of miles through Mexico versus picking up those loads at the border and managing the U.S. retail networks that distribute narcotics to the individual buyers on the street.
In our April analysis, we identified several intelligence gaps in the interface between the Mexican-based drug traffickers (such as the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran-Leyva Organization [BLO] and Los Zetas) and the U.S.-based drug distributors (such as MS-13, Barrio Azteca and the Mexican Mafia). One question we were left with was: How deeply involved are the Mexican DTOs in the U.S. distribution network? While it appeared that narcotics changed hands at the border, it wasn’t clear how or even whether the relationships between gangs and drug traffickers had an effect on the distribution of narcotics within the United States. Although we suspected it, there was little evidence that showed cartel involvement in the downstream or retail distribution of narcotics in the U.S. market.
Command and Control in Chicago
Now there is evidence. The indictment handed down Nov. 20 in Chicago clearly alleges that a criminal group in Chicago was directly conspiring with the drug trafficking organization LFM to distribute shipments of cocaine. The indictment specifically links the criminal group in Chicago to LFM and labels it a “command and control group” run by someone in Michoacan. While the indictment only referred to this person as “individual A,” we suspect that the unidentified person was LFM operational manager Servando Gomez Martinez, the second in command of LFM. The manager of the Chicago command and control group, Jorge Luis Torres-Galvan, and the distribution supervisor, Jose Gonzalez-Zavala, were allegedly in regular contact with their manager in Mexico, updating him on accounting issues and relying on him to authorize which wholesale distributors the group could do business with in the United States.
These wholesale distributors also appear to have had close ties to the command and control group. According to the indictment, they were allowed to sell cocaine on consignment — they could wait to pay Zavala once the entire load was sold — an agreement that indicates a great deal of trust between the supplier and the retail distributor. It was likely a matter of the LFM commander in Mexico authorizing their involvement and probably was based on an existing business or extended-family relationship. Due to LFM’s ideological basis, its members should be thought of more as adherents than employees. The group does not operate using the same business objectives as most other major DTOs, so we would expect personal relationships to be more valued than strictly business relationships among LFM members.
Another member of the group, Jorge Guadalupe Ayala-German, allegedly operated stash houses in the Chicago area where deliveries of narcotics would come in and shipments of cash would leave. The indictment says Ezequel Hernandez-Patino was responsible for physically delivering the shipments of cocaine to the wholesale distributors, and Ismail Flores with Oscar Bueno were responsible for transporting money south to Dallas, where they would deliver cash proceeds from the sale of cocaine and pick up more cocaine to sell. The indictment does not indicate that Flores or Bueno supplied any other markets between Dallas and Chicago, which suggests that the Chicago-based LFM members were fairly compartmentalized.
The larger operation from which the Chicago indictment emerged, the DEA-led Project Coronado, was a joint operation with the FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and numerous other agencies. It followed several similar nationwide sweeps such as Operation Xcellerator, a multi-year effort to dismantle the Sinaloa cartel’s connections in the United States, and Project Reckoning, which went after a Gulf cartel network in the United States that was trafficking cocaine to Italy. Under Project Coronado, the DEA, FBI and ATF, along with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, have made a total of almost 1,200 arrests, seized $32.8 million in U.S. currency and seized 11.7 tons of marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin since the operation began in 2005. Dozens of other indictments and criminal complaints (in addition to the Chicago indictment) have been unsealed against associates of the group across the country since Oct. 22, the official culmination of Project Coronado.
The other cases revealed more details about LFM’s operations in the United States: how it trafficked methamphetamines and cocaine from Mexico to Dallas, how a cell in Nashville was supplied by a distribution hub in Atlanta, and how a group in New York had obtained automatic assault rifles, high-caliber pistols and ammunition with the intent to smuggle those weapons back to Mexico to supply LFM. LFM has been responsible for a substantial level of violence in southwestern Mexico, and former Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Morina Mora recently called it the most dangerous cartel in Mexico.
The Northern District of Texas had the most cases as a result of Project Coronado. It appears that Dallas was a major U.S. hub for LFM, where it managed drug shipments from Mexico to other regions (Chicago and Arkansas were specifically mentioned) and the collection of cash from those distributors before shipping the cash back to Mexico. Dallas is a logical hub for such activity because of its proximity to Mexico and its location along Interstate 35 and Interstate 20, which link Dallas to the rest of the United States as well as points to the south. In at least one case, an individual attempting to smuggle four kilograms of methamphetamines to Dallas passed through the McAllen, Texas, border crossing on a passenger bus but was interdicted by police.
Most indictments (including the one in Chicago) pointed out that LFM groups in the United States conducted countersurveillance while moving drug shipments. On one occasion, accused Dallas drug distributor Soto Cervantes changed the location of a meet-up point when he learned that the person he was meeting suspected that he was being followed. The change in location caused the police (who were indeed following the transporter) to call off the surveillance mission in order to not compromise their investigation. As a result, authorities relied primarily on electronic surveillance of the suspects’ communications through wiretaps on home and cellular phones — of which the suspects had many and which they changed frequently.
There were other cases when police were unable to follow suspects due to such surveillance detection tactics, when targeted traffickers called off meetings and changed vehicles in an effort to confuse police. While seemingly simple, these tactics indicate a higher degree of tradecraft and professionalism among the suspects linked to LFM, who don’t appear to be members of run-of-the-mill street gangs. It is unclear if these tactics have been institutionalized in the LFM network, but judging by the frequency that police encountered them in various U.S. cities during Project Coronado, they appear to be a standard practice for many if not all LFM members.
The details released in the Nov. 20 indictment provide solid evidence that drug trafficking organizations in Mexico (specifically LFM) have established command and control groups inside the United States that report to and receive orders from commanders in Mexico. And this shows that LFM has had an international presence far beyond what we originally suspected and is not just a small-time trafficking group in southwestern Mexico.
Whereas most drug distribution in the United States is carried out by individual gangs serving their own interests and operating on their own familiar turf, the criminal group in Chicago working for LFM was carrying out orders issued by a drug trafficking organization some 3,000 miles away. And based on the interaction the Chicago group had with its contact in Mexico, the use of such tactics as countersurveillance measures, the coordination among groups in different cities and reports from STRATFOR sources within U.S. counternarcotics agencies, it is likely that the individual in Mexico was managing several groups throughout the United States.
Most criminal enterprises avoid this kind of command and control structure for two reasons. First, distribution in a foreign country is not typically in a Mexican-based drug trafficker’s area of expertise. Their interests tend to focus on their own territory, which they can control much more easily due to their familiarity with and proximity to it. Second, as seen in these latest arrests, U.S. law enforcement agencies are much more proficient at thwarting drug distribution operations than Mexican law enforcement agencies are. (LFM has recently proved very proficient indeed at challenging Mexican security forces.) By passing the drugs off to gangs in the United States, major cartels are also able to avoid a great deal of liability at the hands of U.S. law enforcement. In a way, LFM’s efforts to move downstream, farther from the source of the cocaine, mirror those of other, larger Mexican DTOs that are expanding their control over the supply of cocaine in South America as they move upstream, closer to the source.
And this raises the question: Why would LFM want to expand its operations so deeply into the United States when other Mexican DTOs maintain a more superficial presence there? One possible answer is that LFM is much smaller than Sinaloa, Los Zetas and BLO, controls much less territory and gets a smaller share of the narcotics being trafficked through Mexico. By expanding business into the United States, LFM is able to leverage what little control it does have in order to gain access to the highly lucrative retail market. And then there is LFM’s ideological bent, which makes it behave at times more like a cult than a purely pragmatic business.
Our answer to the above question is only conjecture. What is certain, at this point, is that there is now a precedent for Mexican DTOs to have a greater influence over their lower-level supply-chain operations in the United States. The details released in the Chicago indictment provide a better understanding of how Mexican-based drug traffickers impact the drug distribution network inside the United States and prove that at least one, “La Familia,” is taking a very hands-on approach.
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DTN News: Italy Readies 1,000 Extra Troops To Afghanistan ~ official*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ROME, Italy - December 4, 2009: ITALY'S government on Thursday said it was ready to send 1,000 extra soldiers to Afghanistan next year following US President Barack Obama's announcement of a troop surge. Italy, one of 43 countries which make up the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, currently has around 2,800 troops deployed in the war against Taliban insurgents and their Al-Qaeda allies.
'We are now in a position to increase the number of Italian soldiers by 1,000 beginning at the start of 2010,' said Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa, adding the deployments would be spread out through the year.
The additional Italian troops would result in a 'corresponding reduction' in other international missions in which the country participates, including in the Balkans and Lebanon, said Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
'Obama has spoken of the beginning of a withdrawal from 2011. We hope that will be possible,' Mr Frattini said. Italy, one of 43 countries which make up the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, currently has around 2,800 troops deployed in the war against Taleban insurgents and their Al-Qaeda allies.
Mr La Russa said the extra troops would be part of a wider effort to bring stability to Afghanistan more than eight years into the war. He named 'major resources for reconstruction, more obligations for the Karzai government in the battle against drugs, more training for Afghan forces'.
The reinforcements would make Italy's one of the largest contingents in Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
DTN News: Boeing Unveils New Visual Display For Simulation Applications*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) ORLANDO, Fla., - December 4, 2009: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] demonstrated its Constant Resolution Visual System (CRVS) for potential customers this week at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando. CRVS, the company's newest visual display, delivers an immersive environment by providing a high-resolution "out-the-window" view for training systems and for general visualization applications.
"CRVS is unique because it offers the same high resolution throughout the entire viewing area, providing an uninterrupted field of view and unvarying target acuity," said Mark McGraw, Boeing vice president for Training Systems & Services. "It makes virtual training missions and other simulations more detailed and effective."
The CRVS design also uses significantly fewer projectors than currently fielded high-resolution displays, allowing for lower acquisition and support costs. Its High Definition (HD) projector format is compatible with a variety of commercial-off-the-shelf projectors and a wide array of image generators. CRVS is scalable, easily upgradeable and flexible. Low- to high-end projectors can be used to meet customer cost and performance needs.
"The CRVS design is based on the principles of simplicity and increased performance," added McGraw.
Boeing has been developing the CRVS as a company-funded project for several years. Its applications include fast-jet, rotorcraft and ground-based training, as well as visualizations for presentations, virtual prototyping and analysis. The first CRVS will be production-ready in early 2010.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.
DTN News: Boeing Team Installs Radar Antenna On P-8A Poseidon
*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, USA - December 4, 2009: A Boeing [NYSE: BA] and a Raytheon employee complete installation of an APY-10 radar antenna on P-8A Poseidon test aircraft T2 last month at the Boeing Developmental Center in Seattle. T2 is the P-8A program's primary mission system test article.
Following completion of the next phase of radar installation and additional instrumentation, T2 will enter the U.S. Navy's flight test program in early 2010. During flight test, Navy and Boeing pilots will verify the performance of all aircraft sensors.
The P-8A radar antenna was developed and delivered by Raytheon. Boeing's industry team is building and testing five anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft as part of a System Development and Demonstration contract awarded in 2004.
DTN News: Northrop Grumman Announces $171 Million Advance Procurement Contract For DDG 51 Destroyer Continuation*Source: DTN News / Northrop Grumman
(NSI News Source Info) PASCAGOULA, Miss., - December 4, 2009: The U.S. Navy awarded a $171 million fixed-price advance procurement contract to Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) to provide long lead materials for a continuation in the company's Aegis-class DDG 51 destroyer program. The materials purchased will be used in the construction of DDG 113. Northrop Grumman has received a contract for long-lead items of one of two new DDG 51-class destroyers it will build under the program’s continuation. (US Navy photo)Last April, the U.S. Navy announced Northrop Grumman would be awarded contracts for the first two destroyers in the DDG 51 program continuation. The company has delivered 26 of 28 ships, with two more ships currently under construction in Pascagoula.
"This award will allow us to capitalize on our long history of building DDG-class ships and provide the opportunity to exploit a number of process improvements we've been implementing," said Irwin F. Edenzon, sector vice president and general manager, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding - Gulf Coast. "We have worked closely with the Navy to secure funding for long lead time material that will support timely continuation of the DDG 51 production line. Also, this award is important to the nationwide DDG supplier base, a critical element in the program's success."
The funds will be used to purchase long lead time materials and major equipment in support of the new ship, including main propulsion engines, gas turbine generators, propellers and air conditioning systems. The work will be performed at the company's Pascagoula shipyard and the award of the construction contract is expected in 2010.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY December 4, 2009 ~ U.S. Supply Chain Ready For Afghanistan Troop Surge*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA/KABUL, Afghanistan - December 4, 2009: The U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is well-prepared for the surge of 30,000 troops President Barack Obama is planning for Afghanistan, despite the country's austere environment, the agency's director told attendees at a conference on military logistics Dec. 2.A supply convoy snakes its way through the mountains of Afghanistan. (U.S. ARMY)
The DLA, with a staff of 25,000, supplies parts, fuel, clothing, medical supplies and construction materials to troops and works with the logistics support organizations in each of the services.
DLA has been working closely with Oshkosh Defense on getting the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (MATV) to Afghanistan, and the company is well on its way to the production goal 1,000 vehicles per month, said Vice Adm. Alan Thompson, DLA's director.
"They are pouring into Afghanistan now," Thompson said.
Oshkosh is set to build 6,219 MATVs for the military.
The agency is also preparing its supply chains of fuel, medical supplies and clothing for the buildup.
"With clothing, this is obviously a very important element of DLA support," Thompson said. "When you look at troop buildup, obviously, we've been at work for a number of months building up the sustainment supplies for the troops and looking across the country where we have those supplies located, and I think we're going to be in very good shape to handle the inflow of troops there."
But Afghanistan's lack of infrastructure will present challenges, such as the difficulties of trucking in construction materials.
"As you look at the base infrastructure in Afghanistan," Thompson said, "it truly is unlike most other places on the Earth - very austere, little infrastructure, dirt roads, frequent insurgent attacks, land mines everywhere. So it'll be very, very challenging when we operate from a logistics perspective, particularly challenging from a standpoint of transportation. So we work very closely with U.S. Central Command and U.S. TransCom to move materiel in by boat, surface and air.
"One of the things that we work very closely with TransCom on [is] ... facilitating mutual ground lines of supply for what we call the Northern Distribution Network through the central Asian states, and this is proving to be a critical enabler in moving much of the construction supply for buildings, that sort of thing, into Afghanistan," Thompson said.
As far as DLA's distribution network in the region, he said, "There's a very mature distribution capability in Iraq. We're repositioning and downsizing that in anticipation of a withdrawal of U.S. forces that will occur in the spring or early summer of next year."
DLA urgently needs a facility in Afghanistan, he said, "so we're hard at work in bringing a facility to life in the southern region of Kandahar that can provide that back-up support to the Army and Marine Corps units in the months ahead."
In the meantime, DLA will also rely on its existing distribution center in Kuwait, he said.
Thompson also touched on DLA's role in helping Iraqi and Afghan security forces develop their own logistics organizations, the first time DLA has taken on this role, he said. DLA has met with leaders from the two countries to agree on a framework for DLA's role in helping build the logistics organizations.
"It will be important, especially for Iraq, to leave the country not only with a working military, but one that can sustain itself in the future," Thompson said.